Artisanal miners from Mubende will be allocated mining space, President; Yoweri Museveni has reportedly assured legislators from the district.
In June this year, Museveni ordered the immediate eviction of illegal artisanal miners from Mubende district. At least 60,000 gold miners were evicted by security forces and are now stranded in Kitumbi areas.
The miners have since petitioned parliament challenging the manner of their eviction. Last week, MPs from Mubende complained that Government had not thought about artisanal gold miners yet it is being defrauded by small scale investors.
Now, Michael Bukenya, the Bukuya Member of parliament, says the artisanal gold miners might return to the mines within two months following their discussions with Museveni. Bukenya briefed journalists on what they agreed with Museveni at Mubende State Lodge.
Simeo Nsubuga, the Kassanda South MP, also confirmed the meeting with the president. We had a four hour meeting as MPs from Mubende with the president, we agreed that a meeting as stakeholders should happen, including investors and the local artisanal miners, so that we can agree to solve the issue,” Nsubuga said.
In his State of the Nation address of 2015 President Museveni assured the miners in Mubende their plight would be addressed. For five years now the miners have waited for a location license in vein. This year, with the eviction looming, negotiations were ongoing as politicians shuffled between State House and Mubende.
Mr Emmanuel Kibirige, the secretary Singo Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Association said Benny Namugwanya, the Woman MP Mubende, was supposed to have given them feedback from a consultation meeting she had attended in Kampala over their plight. Other than what had transpired they were expressly evicted albeit earlier directives to vacate that they mostly took casually.
“We have lost our lives and livelihood. Our government has done it again to further marginalize the poor. Thanks NRM. Our property worth millions is in the hands of soldiers. Only two hours to shit items after working for ten years,” Kibirige says bitterly.
Kibirige wondered what would become of people’s property as there wasn’t any sort of documentation taking place.
“I have an acre of land I bought in that place and have a land sale agreement for it. What has it got to do with the mines? We would not have refused to leave the mines but should have let us take our property,” Kibirige, who sustained a broken leg in the fracas, says.
After years of toiling several of the miners own pits. Inclusive of paying rental fees to landlords, hiring generators and drilling tools, and labour, operating a pit cost up to Sh500,000 daily, according to Ivan Kawuma, another miner. Kawuma owned a pit more than 300 feet deep after working for more than five years.
What has however left several people baffled is their machinery that they were using in their operations. People were not allowed to take their machinery. Miners have also reported seeing a military police truck driving out of the miners with generators, blowers, and other equipment like drillers.
When asked about people losing property Mr Byaruhanga Patrick, the district police commander Mubende, said those were exhibits to adduce as evidence of illegal mining otherwise people had managed to carry out all their other belongings.
For now the miners are waiting and hoping that they will be allowed back to operate or at least seize opportunities if an investor starts operations.